Otis Worldwide Corporation

03/23/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/22/2023 19:11

Our First Passenger Elevator: This Day in Otis History

As urbanization continues to transform daily life for billions of people around the world, we celebrate World Elevator Day.

On March 23, 1857, Eder V. Haughwout opened his upscale department store in New York City's fashionable SoHo neighborhood - and he equipped the five-story building with Otis' first passenger elevator. The cast-iron building wasn't any taller than other New York buildings of the time. But the savvy merchant hoped that people would come to check out this revolutionary technology - and stay to buy the ornate furnishings he offered. In the coming years, his customers would include Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.

This was just five years after Elisha Otis invented his elevator safety brake - an inspired solution to a universal problem of the industrial age: how to safely move freight from floor to floor without risking lives and destroying the cargo if the hoisting rope broke. The Haughwout building marked the technology's first use for passengers - a milestone that would help give rise to the modern vertical city and forever transform how people live and work. The elevator, with a fully enclosed cab, was powered by a steam engine and ran at 0.20 meters (8 inches) per second.

New York, the world's largest city at the time, had around 800,000 residents. Its population would surpass a million by 1880. Today, the city's population exceeds 8.5 million, in a world with an urban population of around 8 billion.

We've come a long way Elisha Otis invented the modern elevator. Our elevators today are equipped with sophisticated dispatching technologies, energy-saving features, and other advanced systems designed to deliver a quiet, comfortable ride for the 2 billion people we move each day.

Our elevators can be found in some of the world's more iconic buildings, as well as apartment buildings, commercial towers, and the busiest retail centers, metros and airports - everywhere people on the move.

It's why we are proud to be able to say that we that give people freedom to connect and thrive in a taller, faster, smarter world.